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Undercounter fridges and mini fridges are great cooling alternatives to full-sized fridges.
They’re designed to perform similar functions – preserve food items by cooling: thus making it a bit difficult to make a purchasing decision. However, there are subtle differences between these two appliances: hence, the need for an undercounter fridge vs mini fridge debate.
To help you make the right purchasing decision for the best cooling appliance for your small kitchen or space, we’ve put together an in-depth mini fridge vs undercounter fridge debate
So let’s find out the differences between an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge.
What Are the Main Differences Between An Undercounter Fridge and A Mini Fridge?
The main difference between an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge is in their capacity.
While both an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge are compact fridges, an undercounter fridge can carry about 3 times the capacity of a mini fridge. Undercounter fridges have a capacity of around 4.5 cubic feet while mini fridges have a capacity of around 1.7 cubic feet.
The second main difference between an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge is in their function.
Undercounter fridges are designed to fit in small spaces like under the kitchen counter while performing the heavy-duty functions of full-sized refrigerators. Some undercounter fridges have freezer compartments for storing frozen foods in addition to cooling compartments for storing veggies, drinks, and other supplies. A mini fridge only has small cooling compartments for storing items such as snacks and canned drinks.
To further understand the differences between these appliances, let's explore them individually.
What is an undercounter fridge? An undercounter fridge, also called a compact fridge, is a small version of a full-sized fridge designed to fit under the kitchen counter. Some undercounter refrigerators have both freezer and fridge compartments. So they have different drawers for storing supplies such as bread, meat, frozen foods, groceries, and perishable produce at different temperatures.
Undercounter refrigerators are mostly used in homes with small kitchens where full-sized refrigerators will take up too much space or look awkward. So they’re as versatile as full-sized fridges in the things they can store, but can’t hold as many items.
An undercounter refrigerator can also be installed in bedrooms, home bars, or on the patio or garden for entertaining guests. The freezer compartment will store frozen foods such as frozen beef and ice creams at temperatures ranging from -3 to 5 F. While the cooking compartment will preserve vegetables and other supplies at around 32 to 50 F.
An undercounter refrigerator has a modern design and can either be built-in or freestanding. The dimension of undercounter fridges range between 20 – 24 inches wide, 18 – 26 inches deep, and 30 – 36 inches tall. However, those designed for bar-style installation can reach up to 43 inches.
They’re also energy-efficient as a 4.4-cubic feet undercounter refrigerator with a power rating of 100 watts may cost around $35 to $38 to run in a year.
What is a mini fridge? A mini fridge (also called a portable fridge) is another kind of compact fridge that’s smaller than an under-counter fridge and designed to fit in smaller spaces. The smallest mini fridges are about 1.7 cubic feet with a dimension of 17.5 inches in width, 18 inches in depth, and 20.5 inches in height. Because of their small sizes, they’re mostly installed in hotel rooms, dorms, bedrooms, and offices, etc.
There are mini fridges that are portable enough to fit in a car and be taken on camping trips. Another feature of mini fridges is that due to their compact sizes, they don’t have freezing compartments for storing frozen foods, only cooling zones. So they’re not versatile in the items they can preserve.
A mini fridge is used for storing a few cans of drinks, wine bottles, snacks, fruits, and skincare products. However, portable fridges aren’t powerful enough to store perishable produce for more than 3 days.
Despite their space efficiency, they’re not energy-efficient as they use up almost the same amount of electricity as undercounter and full-sized models. A 1.7-cubic feet undercounter refrigerator with a power rating of 70 watts may cost around $25 to $30 to run in a year.
What are the advantages of an undercounter fridge over a mini fridge?
The advantages of an undercounter fridge, when compared to a mini fridge, are it’s a more powerful cooling appliance that lasts long and has a larger storage capacity for storing both frozen items and groceries.
More storage capacity
The primary advantage that an undercounter fridge has over a mini fridge is its larger storage capacity.
A 4.5 cubic feet undercounter refrigerator can carry around 100 canned drinks or 27 bottles of wine (Bordeaux bottles). Also, they have compartments for storing frozen foods such as meat, chicken, ice creams, etc. You can also get models with racks and shelves for organizing your produce.
A mini fridge, on the other hand, is limited in the amount and sizes of items it can store. It doesn’t have a freezing compartment, so you can’t preserve frozen foods. And you can only store a few items such as 25 canned beverages, fruits, skincare products, and snacks.
When compared to a mini fridge, an undercounter fridge is more versatile and allows you to store an assortment of items.
Many undercounter refrigerators have both freezing and cooling compartments for storing both frozen items such as frozen chicken and vegetables. And even when an undercounter unit isn’t a freezing-cooling combo, it’s powerful enough to preserve several perishable produce and items for a longer period of time.
Mini fridges, on the other hand, don’t have freezing compartments, so they’re limited in the kind of items they can store.
While undercounter refrigerators can be installed as freestanding units, the essence of these kitchen appliances is for under-counter installation.
So when you install these fridges under the counter, you’re saving and creating more space in your already small kitchen. Also, you don’t lose countertop space when you install an undercounter fridge.
This is unlike mini fridges that are so small that you may have difficulty bending to reach them so you may want to place them on top of the counter or as a freestanding unit.
Undercounter refrigerators are smaller versions of standard refrigerators, so they last as long as the full-sized models.
An undercounter fridge can last for 13 years while the lifetime expectancy of mini fridges is 5 years. This is due to the cheaper and low-quality components that mini fridges are built with.
When compared to a mini fridge, an undercounter fridge is more powerful and can preserve foods, beverages, and other produce for a longer time.
Undercounter refrigerators usually come with power ratings ranging from 100 to 200 watts. This enables them to preserve frozen foods for a long time (around a month). Plus they're powerful enough to withstand temperature fluctuations
Portable fridges, on the other hand, usually have power ratings that range from 50 to 90 watts. First, they can’t preserve frozen foods. And they’re not powerful enough to store items such as beef for more than 4 days.
What are the advantages of a mini fridge over an undercounter fridge?
The advantages of a mini fridge, when compared to an undercounter fridge, are that it's a cheap and portable appliance that's great for small spaces.
Great for small spaces
When compared to undercounter fridges, a mini fridge is space-efficient so it can fit in tiny spaces that undercounter and standard fridges can’t.
Mini fridges were designed so everyone can have access to chilled drinks wherever they are. So it’s common to see mini fridges installed in hotel rooms and dorm rooms. They’ve also found widespread use in offices and residential properties – home theaters, home offices, bedrooms, garages, and bars – without taking up so much space.
Another key distinguishing factor between an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge is in the latter’s portability.
Mini fridges are so portable that they can sit on the kitchen counter or be stocked with a few drinks and snacks and taken on camping trips or from one place to another.
Secondly, their small sizes mean they’re great for entertaining guests. So you can install them on the patio for weekend gatherings or keep them close to you in the living room as you enjoy your favorite TV shows.
When compared to an under-counter refrigerator, a mini fridge presents a cheaper option.
Mini fridges cost between $30 and $250 while the price for an undercounter fridge ranges from $200 to $2,000.
Which One is more Usable in the Kitchen between An Undercounter Fridge and A Mini Fridge?
Undercounter refrigerators are more versatile than mini fridges, so undercounter fridges are more usable. An undercounter fridge has a larger storage capacity than a mini fridge for storing produce such as raw foods, groceries, bread, prepared foods, and other items.
Also, an undercounter fridge has a freezing compartment for storing frozen foods such as ice creams, frozen beef, and chicken. Also, it can store items for a longer period of time than a mini fridge. Plus undercounter fridges give you a better organization of your items with their racks and shelves.
And should you be asking, “Is an undercounter fridge the same as a mini fridge?” These appliances are different even though many people use their names interchangeably.
An undercounter fridge is a kitchen appliance designed to fit under the kitchen counter and still perform heavy-duty functions (such as preserving frozen items and cooling groceries and other produce) like full-sized refrigerators. While a mini fridge is also a small fridge that can fit in spaces such as hotel rooms and dorms and is used for storing a few canned drinks, fruits, snacks, and skincare products.
What foods can you store in an undercounter fridge?
There are different uses of undercounter fridges. You can store both frozen foods, raw foods, beverages, and prepared foods in an undercounter refrigerator.
Here are some of the items you can store in an undercounter fridge;
Frozen meat: chicken, beef, and pork
- Dairy products
- Ripe fruits: mangoes, nectarines, apricots, avocados, pears, and papayas
- Vegetables: carrots, okra, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- Citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, and limes
- Horseradish mustard
- Fresh corn
What foods can you store in a mini fridge?
Here are the items you can store in a mini fridge;
- Bottles of wine
- Fizzy drinks
- Beverages: milk and juice
Can an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge be paired together in a kitchen?
No, you can’t pair an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge in a kitchen.
Both are small cooling units for preserving items, except that the undercounter fridge may have a freezing compartment for storing frozen foods. Since both refrigeration units perform the same function, and the undercounter fridge has a larger capacity, you can’t pair both in your kitchen.
Here’s how to use an undercounter fridge.
What are the instances where you can use an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge together?
Undercounter fridges have larger capacities to accommodate more items including frozen foods, prepared foods, drinks, and raw produce. So you can install them in your kitchen. A mini fridge can only carry a few items like a few bottles of drinks and wine, snacks, skincare products, and leftovers. So you can install a portable unit in your bedroom, home theater, or bar.
What are the instances where an undercounter fridge and a mini fridge should never be used together?
Both an under-counter fridge and a mini fridge perform the same function, so you may not need to use both of them in the same space such as your kitchen.
What to Consider when Buying An Undercounter Fridge and A Mini Fridge?
Deciding on whether to get a small cooking appliance like an undercounter fridge or a mini fridge? Here are the factors you should consider when getting either of these appliances.
What are the types of small fridges?
There are different types of undercounter fridges: undercounter refrigerators and beverage centers.
An undercounter refrigerator is great for storing groceries and/or frozen items, and it comes with the features of a full-sized fridge. Some undercounter fridges with freezing compartments have adjustable shelves to create room for larger items.
A beverage center is only used for storing wine and canned drinks at optimum temperatures. They come with an adjustable thermostat for setting the best cooling temperature for your different bottles of wine and cooling zones.
On the other hand, there are different types of mini fridges: portable, cube, mid-sized, and minibar mini fridges.
A portable fridge is so small that it can fit in both RVs and saloon cars. You can either use them in dorms or take them on camping trips. They mostly use thermoelectric technology, and they consume as little as 12 volts of electricity.
A cube mini fridge is larger than a portable model. They usually have a capacity ranging from 28 to 59 liters, and they’re the most common mini fridges.
Mid-size mini fridges are more energy-efficient and have larger capacities than cube mini fridges: with their capacities ranging from 80 to 96 liters.
Minibars are like beverage centers as they’re used for storing beverages and snacks.
What storage capacity is good enough for my space?
If you live in a dorm where you don’t cook often, you can get a mini fridge to store a few drinks, snacks, and leftovers.
However, if you live alone in a studio apartment or in a small apartment with your partner and you have a small kitchen, you can get an undercounter fridge to stock up on supplies, frozen items, and drinks.
How much should I spend on a small fridge?
If you live in a dorm or studio apartment, a mini fridge will be great for you. You can get a good mini fridge for around $70 and $250. However, these units don’t last long or offer enough storage capacity.
And if you’re choosing an undercounter fridge, you can expect to spend around $500 to $1,000 for a very functional unit. They last longer, offer more storage capacity, and better organization than mini fridges.
What Are the Best Brands for Undercounter Fridges?
The five best brands making the best undercounter fridges include EdgeStar, Sinoartizan, TYLZA, Kalamera, and Marvel.
EdgeStar is one of the best brands making the best budget-friendly undercounter refrigeration units. Their fridges have beautiful and stylish designs. They also offer exceptional performance and are durable.
Sinoartizan makes some of the best undercounter fridges. They have versatile undercounter refrigerators and beverage centers that can cater to a wide range of domestic needs. Their units have adjustable shelves to make room for irregular-shaped containers and bottles. And aside from installing them under the counter, you can install them on your patio.
One of the best brands making the best undercounter fridges is TYLZA. Their units have the perfect dimension to fit under most kitchen counters while allowing space for clearance. Some of their units come with security features to prevent unwarranted access to your fridge’s content. Despite their compact size, they offer one of the best capacities on this list.
Another reputable brand making some of the best refrigeration units is Kalamera. However, their best undercounter fridges are their beverage centers. They have adjustable wire racks for fitting larger bottles and dairy products.
Marvel is also one of the best brands making some of the best undercounter refrigerators. They make a wide variety of fridges at different prices and different capacities. And their units are great value for money.
What Are the Best Brands for Mini Fridges?
The five best brands making some of the best mini fridges are GE, NewAir, Midea, Avanti, and Haier.